Tag Archives: copycat killer

Arthur Ellis Award: A Devil of a Win

TORONTO — The Devil’s Cinema has won the Arthur Ellis Award — Canada’s top literary prize in crime writing — as a “well-paced, hard-to-put-down, real-life thriller” exploring the Mark Twitchell criminal case and “Dexter Killer” trial.

Here’s what the jury had to say in its award citation:

“A well-written and researched exploration of a very dark side of a young would-be filmmaker. … The horrific crimes and the trial of Edmontonian Mark Twitchell is deftly presented by Steve Lillebuen in a book that is a well-paced, hard-to-put-down, real-life thriller.”

The award is an incredible honour. I come from a breaking news background, so getting the chance to write the book in the first place was like jumping off the treadmill and straight into a marathon. To have my first attempt at running this race recognised by the Crime Writers of Canada is such a thrill and a real mix of luck and gratitude.

I’ve already thanked many people since the award was announced on May 30th in Toronto. But I must make special mention of the dozens of sources who agreed to be interviewed.

Journalists can’t document history unless sources will cooperate. So many people did. This is their tragic story, and I’m thrilled it has resonated with so many readers around the world.

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‘Dexter’ star finds Twitchell case ‘horrifying’

MELBOURNE — It is quite refreshing to see actor Michael C. Hall suddenly open up for the first time about the Mark Twitchell “Dexter Killer” case.

For years, US and Canadian media outlets (myself included as the journalist and author researching this case for The Devil’s Cinema) have tried to get more official comment from those involved in the Dexter series.

Requests went unanswered. And in at least one instance, an ABC 20/20 interview was reported to be granted and then cancelled at the last minute.

But now Michael C. Hall, the actor who portrays the fictional serial killer Dexter Morgan, has told CBC Radio’s Jian Ghomeshi about what it’s like having a killer inspired by Dexter as part of the show’s continuing impact on pop culture:

“All I can say to that is, it’s horrifying to entertain the notion that something you did inspired that. I immediately found myself saying, ‘Well, you know, he would have found something else to inspire him,’ but I don’t know.

“To be perfectly honest, it’s a troubling thing to consider.”

He said the case won’t make him think about quitting the show, and he hoped people saw the series as being more good than bad:

“I don’t think it is a primer on serial killing or it advocates the lifestyle.

“I would hope that people’s appreciation was more than some sort of fetishization with the kill scenes. …

“I wouldn’t stop making ‘Dexter’ because someone was fascinated by it only in that way. I try to tell myself that their fixated nature would have done it one way or the other.

“But it seems that ‘Dexter’ had something to do with it. It’s horrifying.”

Hall’s responses have also been picked up by major media outlets.

Personally, I can only imagine how distressing it must have been to work for years on creating or portraying a complicated character only to have Twitchell transform it into something so sinister, forcing your work to forever be associated with a murder. Continue reading

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Dates From Hell: Investigation Discovery

MELBOURNE — Gilles Tetreault’s experience of being lured to “Dexter Killer” Mark Twitchell’s kill room under the ruse of meeting a woman is certainly one of the “Dates From Hell” worth featuring on Investigation Discovery.

The new series profiles the young man’s survival story in Edmonton, Canada, during an episode first broadcast on US cable on Wednesday night. (I’m not sure of when or if it will air in Canada, or elsewhere.)

His experience is frightening, unbelievable, and will surely terrify anyone planning on meeting up with somebody they’ve just had a connection with through an online dating website.

But let’s hope this TV snapshot of the case is also the starting point for discussions among those viewers who are hearing of it for the first time.

There is a lot more to this true story explored at-length in The Devil’s Cinema, from the perspective of the killer, the detectives, and the victim, Johnny Altinger, who tragically did not share the same kinds of luck as the man who got away.

Their stories merge, however, through that dating site, in that now infamous garage, and years later, when a courtroom would reveal all.

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